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Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has presented its Bike Sense research, consisting of a range of technologies the company is working on, aimed at increasing the driver’s awareness towards cyclists and motorcyclists on the road. JLR intends to prevent two-wheeled accidents – 19,000 cyclists are killed or injured every year in the UK alone.

The car will be able to detect bicycles and motorcycles through sensors placed around it, and will alert drivers before they see it using lights, sounds and touch. The company’s researchers are identifying the colours and sounds that will cause an instinctive response from the driver, instead of a generic warning icon or sound which takes time for the driver to process.

The location and direction of the bike is pointed out through the sound of a bicycle bell or motorcycle horn played through the speaker nearest to the bike. If the bike is coming up from behind, the top of the car seat will extend to “tap” the driver on the left or right shoulder depending on which side the bike is coming past, so that the driver will instinctively look over.

To indicate the closeness of the bike, a matrix of LED lights on the window sills, dashboard and windscreen pillars will glow amber and then red as the cyclist approaches, and the movement of the lights across the interior will also highlight the direction the bike is taking.

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“Human beings have developed an instinctive awareness of danger over thousands of years,” said JLR’s director of research and technology Dr Wolfgang Epple. “Certain colours like red and yellow will trigger an immediate response, while everyone recognises the sound of a bicycle bell.

“Bike Sense takes us beyond the current technologies of hazard indicators and icons in wing mirrors, to optimising the location of light, sound and touch to enhance this intuition. This creates warnings that allow a faster cognitive reaction as they engage the brain’s instinctive responses.”

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The system will also detect if a group of cyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians are moving around the car, for example on a busy urban street, and will prioritise the nearest hazards to avoid overwhelming or distracting the driver with lights and sounds.

Bike Sense will even be able to detect and warn the driver of hazards they can’t see, such as cyclists or pedestrians crossing the road that are obscured by other objects, like a stationary vehicle. If the driver ignores the warnings and presses on the accelerator pedal, the latter will vibrate or feel stiff, provoking an instinctive response on the driver to back off until the hazard has been avoided.

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When parked, Bike Sense will help prevent the car’s occupants from opening the doors into the path of bikes by alerting them of an approaching cyclist, motorcyclist or car, and will light up, vibrate and buzz the door handles if any passenger continues to open a door.

“By engaging the instincts, Bike Sense has the potential to bridge the gap between the safety and hazard detection systems in the car and the driver and their passengers,” added Dr Epple. “This could reduce the risk of accidents with all road users by increasing the speed of response and ensuring the correct action is taken to prevent an accident happening.”